Nov. 18, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Today is the feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, who left France in 1818 with four other Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and came to America.

"In 1820 she opened the first free school west of the Mississippi. By 1828 she had founded six houses. These schools were for the young women of Missouri and Louisiana. She loved and served them well, but always in her heart she yearned to serve the American Indians."

In 1841, with three other nuns, Mother Duchesne went to the Potawatomi at Sugar Creek, in what would be Kansas.

She was too old to learn the language, but not too old to pray. The children placed rocks on her habit as she knelt in prayer, and hours later, the rocks would still be there. Quah-kah-ka-num-ad, they called her: Woman-Who-Prays-Always.

An account of Mother Duchesne's year at Sugar Creek by Fr. Thomas Kinsella (buried in the Ursuline cemetery at Paola, Kansas) and a poem about the "stones on the fabric lake" by Susan J. Campbell, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, may be found here.

Mother Duchesne returned to St. Charles, Mo., in 1842, and in 1852 she died. Her relics are preserved in a sarcophagus at the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

"Philippine's path to sainthood began in 1895. She was pronounced venerable in 1909, beatified in 1940 and canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on July 3, 1988."

In 1948, Treasure Chest ran a>
two-part story of Mother Duchesne, in which the Ursulines of New Orleans are mentioned. They offered hospitality to many nuns newly arrived from Europe, including Rose Philippine Duchesne.

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